One of the main barriers male survivors of sexual violence face is a lack of services. Most existing sexual violence services only assist women and girls. Of the services that do assist men and boys, most provide limited counseling and referrals.
Male survivors need services, however, even when those organizations are created, they face dismissal by the existing female-only groups. For example:
Survivors Manchester, a service which supports men and boys who have suffered sexual abuse, received a letter stating that the Rape Support Fund would only be allocated to women and girls over the age of 13.
The service is the only support centre for male victims of sexual abuse in Manchester and is only one in five across the UK as they received 48% more referrals from last year after the high profile arrests of several famous figures.
The letter explained that the fund was for ‘rape support services whose primary purpose is to provide direct support to victims of rape and other forms of sexual assault, including both recent and historic abuse,’ but only for women over the age of 13.
This is blatant sexist discrimination. There is no logical reason to deny Survivors Manchester access to the funds. As the article notes, there are only a handful of male-only organizations in the UK. The funds allocated to them would be a blip compared to the money female-only organizations would receive.
The article quotes Duncan Craig, the Service Director for Survivors Manchester:
Due to the fact that the beneficiaries of our service are males we are ineligible to apply for much needed funds. Should the service have had female only beneficiaries, we would have been eligible.What message does this send out to boys and men suffering in silence? Does it give the message that government doesn’t care about them?
What message indeed. The article states that the organization only receives public donations. The added government support would allow them to assist more men and boys. Given that the other organizations are apparently not doing that, it sends a terrible message to male survivors.
More men and boys are coming forward. Some of them will seek counseling services. Why not provide it for them? Why deny them access to the same things offered to female survivors?
This is not the first time this has happened. Another organization that decided to assist male survivors was kicked out of the national Rape Crisis network. The UK government also required domestic violence shelters to grant men access to the services or lose their funding. Feminists groups blocked legislation to allowed women to be charged with rape.
What purpose does any of that serve except to deny the existence of male survivors? Why treat abused men and boys this way? What does it get any of these groups in the long run?
Survivors Manchester is currently asking Manchester residents to contact their Ministers of Parliament to petition for an appeal of the decision. Let us hope that enough residents file complaints so that the decision will be reconsidered.